My Favorite Math Professional Development Books

Looking to grow and learn as a math educator? Check out my favorite math professional development books to learn research-based strategies and set yourself & students up for success.

One of my favorite ways to spend my summer break is by reading math professional development books about the best teaching strategies and research-based practices. You’re probably thinking, “Seriously?! That’s how you like to spend your summer??” Well, I am a self-proclaimed math geek, so yes, I really do enjoy reading and thinking deeply about the best ways to make math fun and meaningful for kids! But more than that, I take my role here at Math Geek Mama seriously, and if you are coming to this site to grab resources to help you be the best math teacher you can be, I want to be on top of my game and as in-the-know as I can be. So if you’d like to dig deeper this summer as well, check out my top picks for fun, easy math pd reads to help you grow as a math educator.

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Quick Reads for Summer Math Professional Development Books

If you’re looking for a quick win or a beach or poolside read that will also help you to grow as a math educator, check out some of these little gems. Though I usually like professional development books I can write in and bookmark, these would be easy to read on a kindle or tablet.

Making Sense of Math by Cathy Seeley

This little book could probably be read in a single sitting, but you’ll want to take it slow and digest all the meaningful bits along the way! I really appreciate this brief overview of teaching for sense making and how succinct it is.

Building a Math-Positive Culture by Cathy Seeley

This is a great companion to the book above! Again, even though it is short, it is packed with powerful tips for creating the culture you want to see in your classroom and in your school.

What’s Math Got to Do With It? by Jo Boaler

A classic read in the math professional development world, this book is written for everyone, making it easy to digest and hard to put down. This is more anecdotal than textbook, so it’s a great summer read.

Empowering the Beginning Teacher of Mathematics: High School {Middle School, etc.}

This series of books from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics was a tremendous help and encouragement to me in the days before jumping into my first classroom. Though it’s a little dated now, it’s a short-but-packed book to encourage you in your early days.

Powerful Problem Solving by Max Ray

Although this is not quite as much of a ‘quick and easy read’ as the others listed here, I think it’s an essential introduction to building a classroom focused on sense making and developing the standards for mathematical practice. It’s well written, and also includes lots of examples and ideas to use in your classroom.

Favorite Math P.D. Books to Have on Hand for Reference

If you’re looking for a more in-depth read that you can dive into, take notes and refer back to again and again, here are my favorites. But as you’ll soon see, I have a long list of ‘to be read’ books as well, so I may add to this list as I’m able to get more professional development done myself!

Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler

If you’re wanting a much more in depth and research heavy option from Jo Boaler, this is it. I love how much she focuses on how our brains develop and make sense of math, and how different examples and ideas are woven throughout. This is definitely a book that should be on every math teacher’s shelf.

Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally by Van De Walle, Karp & Bay-Williams

Although this is typically a textbook in teacher prep programs, it is well worth the investment, even if you don’t need it for school. It’s massive, so not something to sit and read cover to cover, but more a reference book to help you know and understand math deeply, so you can most effectively teach it.

This book is so thorough, you can find strategies for most math concepts, tips for productive math talk, teaching students with exceptional needs, and more.

Intentional Talk: How to Structure & Lead Productive Mathematical Discussions by Kazemi & Hintz

This is possibly one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of teaching upper level math–knowing how to foster and engage students in meaningful math discussions and being able to answer their questions in a way that actually leads them to make sense on their own. Though this book uses examples in elementary math classes, the overarching strategies apply to math at any level.

Making Number Talks Matter by Humphreys & Parker

This book is a great next step to Intentional Talk above. This is more specific and actionable, helping you to get started with daily number talks in your classroom. It is easy to read and very thorough, with lots of examples and tips throughout.

Productive Math Struggle by SanGiovanni, Katt & Dykema

One thing I think many classrooms lack (not just math class) is the expectation and room for productive struggle. If a student doesn’t grasp something right away, or know the answer right away, we rob them of precious opportunities to learn and grow when we’re too quick to give them the answer.

With the focus of math no longer needing to be fast and accurate computation (we have calculators and computers for that), it is essential that we help kids develop perseverance in problem solving by pushing them a little beyond their comfort zone. This book walks you through a plan to be intentional with opportunities for productive struggle.

Why Write in Math Class? by Linda Dacey

In the age of an increasingly digital classroom (though technology certainly has its place), I think this book is more important than ever. I believe math should be written and reflected on and shared with peers. We need to know how to incorporate writing into math class in ways that develop perseverance, problem solving skills, critical thinking and the articulating of big math ideas. This book is a great place to start!

Math Fact Fluency by Bay-Williams & Kling

I have both this book of fluency games as well as Figuring Out Fluency and both have been excellent resources. Math Fact Fluency is not necessarily something to sit down and read cover to cover, but is more a resource for finding games that are the best fit for your students needs.

To be honest, I don’t love every single game here, BUT the great thing about a book with such variety is that you’re bound to find some gems that work for you and your students.

On My List: Math PD Books I Hope to Read Next

What follows is an ever growing list of books that I want to read and reflect on as a math educator. If you’re looking for something to read and study, but none of the above books are of interest, maybe you can try some of the books below!

Some are on this list because they’re from authors I know and trust, and others have been recommended to me. As I work my way through them, I’ll either add them to the ‘favorites’ above or remove them from the post! 😉

Learning to Love Math: Teaching Strategies that Change Student Attitudes & Get Results by Judy Willis

This is a new-to-me resource that I’m excited to be reading summer 2024 as part of our Summer Book Club! Want to join us as we consider ways to try to undo math anxiety and build student confidence. We’ll  be meeting on zoom for 4 weeks in July 2024. Sign up for my email list using the form below to get the invite!

Digging Deeper: Making Number Talks Matter Even More by Humphreys & Parker

There’s now a sequel to the book above! I can’t wait to dig into this one.

Faster Isn’t Smarter by Cathy Seeley

I find I am often saying this to parents or the kids I tutor to remind them that the goal of their math education is not to be fast. I look forward to learning more from Cathy Seeley.

Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had by Tracy Zager

This is high on my list, as I’ve read great things about it and have enjoyed other teachings from Tracy.

Open Middle Math by Robert Kaplinski (Grades 6-12)

This is another highly recommended resource that I have had on my list for a long time!

Math Recess: Playful Learning in an Age of Disruption by Singh & Brownell

This is new to me, but since I’m always looking for ways to make math engaging, it definitely caught my eye!

The  Math Pact: Achieving Instructional Coherence in an Age of Distraction (Elementary, Middle & High School Versions)

If I ever go back to the classroom, this will be a top pick for sure! If you’re looking for something to read together with your department or school, check out the appropriate grade level.

Routines for Reasoning: Fostering the Mathematical Practices in All Students by Kelemanik, Lucenta & Creighton

I’m always looking for easy to implement routines that build strong math habits and number sense, so this has been on my list for awhile.

Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics by Peter Liljedahl

I’ve seen this one recommended a lot recently, so I’m excited to check it out. We all want our kids to be math thinkers!

Mine the Gap for Mathematical Understanding by John SanGiovanni

This is another series I’ve wanted to read for awhile. It addresses common misconceptions, and how to take what students are lacking in understanding and clarity and help them move forward. There are three books in this set: K-2, 3-5 and 6-8.

Phew, that is quite a list and will certainly keep me busy for awhile! And I’m sure there are so many others to add to this list. But hopefully gathering this collection together gives you a good start in your quest for math professional development books. Use this list for personal study, or as a book club read with other teachers at your school or in your district.

Happy math reading and learning!

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